How many lawyers does it take to shut down a failing charter school? | Opinion

How many lawyers does it take to shut down a failing charter school? | Opinion

When the School District of Philadelphia targeted Germantown High School for closure just one year before its 100th anniversary, there was no legal recourse for students or families. No law required the district to conduct an inquiry or call witnesses in order to hear testimony from those fighting to save the school. While the administration of Superintendent William Hite did hold an informal meeting at the school, the community’s pleas fell on deaf ears. Germantown High, along with 23 other neighborhood schools that had served generations of Philadelphians, was closed by vote of the School Reform Commission in a matter of months.

Closing a charter school is a very different story. The Pennsylvania Charter Law mandates a lengthy legal process, beginning with weeks of hearings at the district level. Thousands of pages of documents are entered into evidence. Should the hearing examiner rule in the district’s favor, the charter school can appeal to the state’s Charter Appeal Board in the hope that the six-person board of political appointees, most of whom have ties to the charter sector, will overrule the decision of the local board. Should that fail, the school can appeal to Commonwealth Court.

A recent story by Inquirer reporter Maddie Hanna detailed the costs involved in current efforts to shut down two city charters.

Click here to read the rest of the commentary

Ears on the Board of Education: March 28, 2019

by Diane Payne

The Board of Education saw its first real pushback at this meeting.  Student protestors, upset at the vote on metal detector policy, took over the meeting.  The Board left the room and did not return, leaving the public participants wondering what was happening. The Board then took an unprecedented action which may have serious legal ramifications.  Democracy is not always neat and orderly. How the Board responds to the messiness of passionate voices will shed a light on how much “local control” really exists under a mayoral-appointed Board.  Details below.

Present

All nine members of the Board of Education were present as well as student representatives Alfredo Pratico and Julia Frank.  (All meeting agendas and materials can be viewed on the SDP website;  videos of previous meetings can be viewed by scrolling down on the BOE homepage and clicking on Watch Previous Board Meetings.)

Ten APPS members were present, but only one had the opportunity to testify.  Seven others were unable to deliver their public remarks to the Board. The room was filled to capacity, and the energy of engagement was palpable.  A total of 48 speakers were registered to speak, but only 12 were able to deliver their remarks.

The meeting commenced with a beautiful student performance from the Central High Jazz Combo.  As usual, the talent and confidence of these student performers was inspiring and a stark reminder that the battle to preserve and improve PUBLIC education is a battle worth fighting.

Click here to read the rest of the post

District Partnerships and Community Engagement Committee Meeting: March 21, 2019

by Karel Kilimnik

The District Partnerships and Community Engagement Community held its second meeting on Thursday March 21 at the Lucien Blackwell Recreation Center in West Philadelphia. All Board members were present, as were four members of the newly-created Board of Education Parent & Community Advisory Council. City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell welcomed everyone and said how glad she was to have local control of the District reinstated.  Co-chairs Julia Danzy and Mallory Fix Lopez took turns introducing the program.

Chief of Student Support Services Karyn Lynch provided an overview of the Family And Community Engagement Office (FACE) describing their role in providing professional development for parents and staff, help for family members with various concerns they have, assisting teen parents in getting an education, and helping the Bi-Lingual Counseling Assistants (BCAs) translate and interpret in a range of languages. Approximately 60 people attended. Instead of having District staff make presentations, the format consisted of small groups discussing the three questions and issues below. Board members facilitated the discussion at each table “to gather feedback and develop strategies for improving engagement”.

Click here to read the rest of the post

Student Achievement and Support Committee: March 14, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

Co-chair Dr. Angela McIver called the meeting to order and chaired the proceedings.  All Committee members were present: Co-chair Dr. Chris McGinley, Julia Danzy, Mallory Fix Lopez, Dr. Maria McColgan. Board President Joyce Wilkerson and Student Representatives Julia Frank and Alfredo Pratico were also present.

Dr. McIver announced that the focus of the Committee meeting would be on Multi-Lingual Curriculum and Programs. Several public speakers had signed up prior to the meeting, most on the subject of EL policies and practices. She suggested that prospective speakers could sign up to speak at the Board’s Action meeting. She also noted that written testimony can be submitted at any time for Committee attention and to become part of the record by emailing it to: schoolboardcommittees@philasd.org.

The February 2, 2019 minutes were approved and will be posted on the website.

Multi-Lingual Curriculum and Programs Presentation

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Malika Savoy Brown, along with Deputy Chief of MultiLingual  Curriculum and Programs Allison Still and Director Patricia Ryan, gave the presentation and answered questions.

Dr. Malika Savoy-Brooks stated that the Multi-Lingual Curriculum and Programs Office is part of the Academic Supports Office. She noted three main goals: 1) ensuring that all students have access to grade level instruction, 2) supporting students through rigorous coursework and compelling programs, and 3) ensuring that teachers and leaders are equipped with the knowledge they need to ensure effective teaching and learning in the classroom. Savoy-Brooks said that there has been a shift in the programs to support schools and fill gaps with comprehensive efforts in the high school multi-lingual program as well.

Click here to read the rest of the post